Tips & Hints On Things To Watch Out For During Construction

~~ Part 2 of 2 ~~

This post is part 2 of a two part series talking about construction in Belize and other Countries. If you haven’t yet, read part 1 of 2.

HARDWOOD HOUSE COATING AND MAINTENANCE ~ Coating the wood will help preserve its colors and beauty. Outside walls in the sun, if not coated with a UV protectant stain, will quickly turn grey. Before coating, clean off dust and debris and make sure that all pencil marks are removed. This may sound stupid, but a friend of ours was not there when they coated his house and now he has permanent measurement on his balcony walls, right at eye level too! Since the inside of our house has 16’ ceilings and is quite large, we opted for coating using a spray gun. We were lucky with the guy we hired as he did an excellent job. The first coat was applied in the morning and the second coat a couple of hours later in the afternoon. If we had done this by hand, it would have taken several days. Being in the jungle and having a wood house, fighting bugs is part of the routine. So before coating I also recommend spraying all wood surfaces (inside and out) with an anti bug (termites, worms etc.) chemical such as Dursban, which is easily available and comes in many types for different applications. Once your house is completed, regular spraying is recommended (monthly or less depending on the season) to prevent any bugs from moving in. These chemicals also help keep out other bugs such as scorpions and spiders.

GUTTERS & DRAIN PIPES ~ As stated in part 1 of 2 ~ Plumbing topic, inclination/grade is a concept many guys do not grasp. So check the grade throughout with a level. Also the joints/connections must be sealed with silicone, which if you don’t tell them, there are good chances will not bother do. Due to the high volume of water when you get a good tropical downpour, ensure that the gutters’ drains are large enough to handle that volume.

TOOLS & EQUIPMENT ~ Carelessness is big and can get costly. Check the oil in your generator yourself as it is not unusual that they let that go dry. Also, using the wrong fuel (regular or diesel) in engines, or the correct mix of fuel/oil as for the weed trimmer is another thing to keep your eyes on. A bad habit most have is to leave things lying around, and often in the rain. And last but not least, breaking things. Be ready to fix a lot of stuff or ensure you have a good repair man in your area to help with those!

DAILY INSPECTION ~ Inspect daily, or as often as possible so that problems can be rectified in time, without having to undo too much to fix the mistake. You must also ‘see for yourself’ and not take their word as lying is second nature for many!

PAYING THE WORKERS & CONTRACTORS ~ If you are planning on building, I am sure you have done research and have heard a few stories, some not too good. When it comes down to money transactions with financially struggling people, it is always risky. But when dealing with a reputable company, it is quite safe. When hiring and paying workers by yourself it is another story. As you probably read somewhere, it is advised not to pay your workers until the job is completed and that makes sense. Here‘s one that happen to me. I had a guy on a contract that would take about 8 days and we agreed on $70 per day. I gave him one day pay in advance and paid for the supplies. At the end of his fourth day he asked to be paid for the days he worked so far. So I replied that we agreed that he would get paid at the end of the job. Then he started whining about how the rich gringos don’t care, that he has a wife and kids and needs to buy food and so on. So I gave in and paid him for 3 days. Once the money was in his hand, he then announced to me that for him to complete the job his daily rate would now be $100! So I just told him to get the %*^&# out of here and to never set foot on my property again! You will run into these types of situations and they are not fun to deal with. Unfortunately, many of them do not understand the concept of long term employment, possible references to other people who plan on building, being true to their word, and respecting their employers. Also, when hiring workers directly, not through a contractor or company, make sure Social Security gets paid. It’s the law, as it should be, and it is very important for the future of the country. For more information on Social Security in Belize, visit the Social Security Board website. It is a very well built website that includes all information you need, procedures, forms, and more.

In closing, a big struggle with workers is communication. Even though Belize is an English speaking country, many workers (from Guatemala and Honduras for example) do not speak English (or some do when convenient!), and Spanish is almost as widespread. But even without a language barrier, establishing a rapport with your worker is still hard to achieve sometimes. Mix a bunch of masculine gender Gringos and Latinos, egos are high! Those I have seen succeeding in developing a good relationship are the ones who can listen as well as talk. It has to be 2 way communications in order to exchange ideas and knowledge. The Gringo has the technological knowledge, and many ideas. The Latino has knowledge of the country and its custom and probably has many ideas that you ought to listen to! Listen to your workers’ suggestions as it might just be the answer you were looking for. Then it’s easy for you to build upon his idea, while inquiring for more suggestions. And when you are of different countries and cultures, you learn even more. It’s a great combination, but not necessarily an easy one! With mutual respect, you can learn so much from each other.

I am sure there are hundreds of other things to look out for and that anyone who’s ever built in Belize (or in any similar country) have a few good stories of their own! Please share them in the ‘comments’ section.

TropiCat

Other Posts:

1 ~ Living Comfortably In The Jungle Of Central America!
2 ~ Producing And Storing Your Own Electricity, You Have The Power To!
3 ~ Building Off-Grid In The Jungle, Fun But Challenging
4 ~ Easy Broadband Satellite Internet Access
5 ~ Water Supply Considerations, Off-Grid In The Jungle
6 ~ The Domestic Cats’ Life In The Jungle
7 ~ The Belize Mennonite’s Lifestyle
8 ~ How To Live As An Expat In A Foreign Country
9 ~ The Invasion Of The Flood Flies
10 ~ Living in Paradise! But, Where Is It?
11 ~ Solar Panel Placement & Sun Chart Creator
12 ~ Health Issues When Living Abroad
13 ~ Telecommunication Challenges In A 3rd World Country
14 ~ Fleas & Ticks In The Jungle
15 ~ The Dangers Of The Black Poisonwood Tree
16 ~ To Buy Or To Rent When Moving Abroad
17 ~ Home Schooling When Living Abroad
18 ~ Tips & Hints On Things To Watch Out For During Construction – Part 1 of 2


20 Responses

  1. Thanks for more tips, especially about house coatings. I have not decided if I like the natural hardwood, or a bright color for our house yet.!

  2. Sandy, I’m with you as I so love colors also. But I also love the wood. I have left all inside trims around the windows and doors uncoated and have bought 6 gallons all different pastel colors… I haven’t painted them yet because since we are for sale, I thought it might be better to leave it natural so that the new owner can do what they want. But, I would love to paint them, so I might just do it one day!

  3. Since you are in a jungle setting, the natural wood does look nice, even though colorful accents might really be cool! I like the look of colorful houses for the beach. I wonder how often they need to be painted? I also wonder if you can buy Kilz in Belize to spray the house with as an undercoat to the paint? Or maybe a similar product.

  4. WOW! Tropikat,

    I have missed out on a lot at your BLog. I will have to return and start reading from where I last left.

    My BLog WindmillofmyMind is back up and running now. I have also started a second BLog – http://dfoolonthehill.com/

    I shall return !

    God Bless you Always,

  5. Sandy, I have not seen Kilz in Belize, but since I was not looking for it, it does not mean they don’t carry it. But I am sure they carry many different primers. I would say it is a good idea to use primer as when the wood is dry it does absorbs a lot.

    WindMill, so nice to see you back! I was worried there since your blog had been down for quite a while. I have checked out your new blog also, and ohhh, what a cutie Panda is. And well fed it seems like!

  6. me gusta mucho tu blog lo visito a diario visita el mio y si t gusta deja un comentario y si quieres nos enlazamos los blogs

  7. We`re currently building our home in Guatemala and it`s been such a process. We`ve gone through five builders so far. I think we finally have a decent one, but in the meantime, the house is all wonky, with floors running in different directions because they didn`t think to level it properly.😛

    We also ran into the issue of builders complaining about money, showing up on our doorstep on weekends and at night, and asking for advances, sometimes after having not shown up for work for a week! My husband, who is Guatemalan, tends to befriend them a little too much, so I usually step in and play the part of the meanie gringa, saying they have to work for their cash. lol. Somebody`s gotta do it!

  8. I like the article, it covers alot of needed info on home construction. One thing I did not see mentioned was grey and black water disposal. I imagine in some areas it is avail. but in remote or island settings I am curious of disposal methods.

  9. m gusta mucho tu blog lo visito a diario visita el miop y si t gusta deja un comentario y si quieres nos enlazamos los blogs

  10. Hi Tropicat,

    Greetings!

    Couple of things I wish to inform you.

    1. Please goto http://dfoolonthehill.com to pick up you BLog Award.

    You will need to display it at your Sidebar here at your BLog.

    2. Health reasons once again forced me to shut down Windmill of my Mind. It was simply too taxing for me to manage two BLogs after I revived WomM. The sedentary lifestyle does my blood sugar no good as I need to exercise to burn off the sugar due to my Diabetes condition.

    So, I decided to keep “fool on the hill” which I renamed to “WindMill on the hill” because peeps just kept addressing me as WindMill. (Perhaps they found it impossible to address me as thefool.LOL)

    I know this is about the last straw for you. Ha ha ha. Okay, I thought through and here is the banner image that you will need to copy and change the existing WomM link at your Sidebar.

    Image link :

    URL for my BLog:
    http://dfoolonthehill.com

    God Bless you Always!

  11. Hi ExpatMom!

    Love your comment, and went to visit your blog, and I loved that too! Your stories are really funny, and your life is quite busy🙂

    I recommend ExpatMom’s blog to anyone who contemplates living in Central America! I have placed a permanent link in my ‘Belize & Expat Links’ section.

  12. WindMill, thanks for the award! I have also fixed your link with the correct URL and picture.

    As for your name, how about The Fool Caught in the WindMill?

    I have checked your last post about that virus, and am investigating that…

    Take care of your health and keep on blogging!

  13. Hi OhNO! (love your name!)

    Water disposal when off-grid is pretty much always by a septic tank system. And some people also reuse grey water for watering plants, use in the toilet etc. But that is even more work!

  14. hi tropicat, nice blog,
    thanks for sharing…hope we all can preserve and love the forests. protect the last remaining greenbelt of the world and prevent it from more destruction.
    if you love to live in the forest, you would be interested also in keeping an eye on any illegal logging activity there. Also, i don’t think it’s a good idea to promote forest living as it will encourage more and more clearings. let it be. it was supposed to like this.

    • Hi Henry!

      Unfortunately, human beings abuse and rape this beautiful planet. Too many people think it’s theirs alone and completely disregard the wildlife, who have as much right to the planet as we do. As the ‘superior race’, people should always keep in mind that they must share their land with the surrounding life, take only what they need and not an inch more. Unfortunately, it is not always the case. For everything men build, they also destroy precious habitats and cause irreparable damages.

      As for illegal logging, Belize does not have too much of a problem with that issue. There is some of course, but the government keep an eye on that. There’s also the problem of poachers, mainly guys from Guatemala who cross the border illegally as they have depleted their wildlife and are now coming here. Along the Guatemala border there are a lot of well armed patrol men looking out for those poachers.

      Lets hope the next generation get smarter.

  15. Hi TropiCat

    Yvonne from South Africa here. Well my research continues re. moving to Belize and the more I find, the more I want to go! I have only just started reading your blog and again, thanks for all of the valuable info.
    My goodness I had a chuckle when you described dealing with labourers-why?- because this is exactly what we deal with each and every day in my part of the world! This again confirms that relocating should be like water off a duck’s back in as far as dealing with incompetence and finally just doing the job yourself!

    Keep well

  16. Hi Yvonne!

    It’s been tough having to redo so many things, but on the other hand, what we have learned during the last years is so invaluable! Years of University would never have taught us as much as being immersed in the jungle here in crazy Belize!

    It was totally worth it🙂

  17. Well I have just read your blog about building pages 1 and 2. I am going to the store but when I get back I am reading more of your blogs as this is great information and you are an awesome woman for taking the time to post it all. I do appreciate it and trust me when I get down there dinner is on us. lol it is for it is worth the read.

  18. I am glad my blog can help. So I guess you are contemplating moving and building in Belize. As for dinner on you, you’ll have to come to Canada for that as we have sold the property. But maybe I can fly down there and enjoy a nice meal at Hanna’s in San Ignacio… I miss their food a lot🙂

  19. OMG so you have moved back why? So…….uh oh how come you left the tropics? something we should be aware of ? and yes I will eat there and tell em you sent me lol.

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